Transform your home’s green credentials in a single weekend. Our list of 10 must-haves for your low-impact lifestyle covers essentials from washing lines to compost bins.
1. Washing Line
A washing line can make a huge difference to your home energy requirements. Tumble driers are massive consumers of electricity, so whenever the weather allows, we recommend you dry your clothes on a washing line outside.
A retractable washing line takes up very little space and is a convenient option for a smaller garden or courtyard. Portable clotheslines are ideal for drying clothes outside in the summer months and inside in colder periods. For low-impact drying on wet days, you might also consider putting up a permanent drying rack in a room in the house. ecowashinglines.co.uk have lots of good quality options.
There are also options if you live in a flat and have no garden or balcony. Apartments all over Spain and Italy use wall-mounted pulley washing lines and you can easily make your own from a couple of wall-mounted pulleys and a length of washing line. You can buy washing line pulleys from most hardware stores and ironmongers, or online from Avenue Supplies. Alternatively, Robert Dyas has a good range of drying lines including Barbantia washing lines and Vileda retractable washing lines. Australian company, Austral Washing Lines, have just released the Retractaway 40 retractable washing line, which comes highly recommended and makes the most of any garden space that you have, or equally, it can be mounted between two indoor walls.
Read leangreenhome’s Retractable Washing Line Reviews.
2. Compost Bin
Making your own garden compost is an easy and very satisfying way to help the environment, and enrich your garden’s soil while you’re at it. There are many different types of compost bin on the market from plastic bins (often available at subsidised rates from local councils, or cut-price from the Recycle Now scheme) to more attractive wooden bins, or alternatively, you could build your own.
3. Bokashi Bin
Some household waste can’t go straight on the compost heap. But now, meat, fish, dairy scraps and cooked food, which might otherwise attract pests, can all be safely composted using a Bokashi Kitchen Composter. This is great news when, according to research carried out by Wrap (Waste & Resources Action Programme), a third of the food we buy ends up in landfill, producing methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. Have a look at our ‘Bokashi Explained’ page to find out more.
Worm bins quickly turn organic kitchen waste like old banana peels and egg shells into worm castings; wholesome and clean-smelling compost. For convenience you can keep the wormery in the garage or outside the back door, add your organic kitchen scraps and the wrigglers housed within will keep working for you all year round. Find out more about Wormery Composting.
5. Water Butt
To reduce the demand for piped and purified water, rainwater can be collected in water butts – large containers – fitted to your gutter’s downpipes around the outside of your house. The water can be used to water plants or wash the car. Water prices are set to increase significantly over the next decade, so the message is simple: save water, save money.
6. Energy-saving light bulbs
Save the planet and your wallet by replacing standard incandescent light bulbs with low-energy compact fluorescent bulbs. Energy-efficient light bulbs use 80% less electricity than standard light bulbs, last between 6 and 15 times longer and now come in a range of shapes and sizes.
Windows, even if double-glazed and draft-proofed can contribute to up to 20% of the total heat loss from your home. Hanging good quality curtains that fit snugly to walls and keeping them closed when the heating is on, could help reduce heat loss by up to a third.
9. Wireless Power Meter
This clever little device is the only ‘gadget’ in this list and that’s because it really helps you think about and reduce your energy consumption. Wireless power meters, or smart meters visually display actual energy consumption in the home in terms of pence per hour. You can see exactly how much energy you’re using in real time. Boil the kettle or turn on the oven and watch the reading rise, turn the plasma telly off at the plug and watch it dive. Simply having this information to hand is a real motivator and can help you make some big energy savings.
10. Grow Your Own
Forget bags of limp salad selections, a great way to help the environment and your wallet is to harvest fresh leaves from your own garden all throughout the growing season. Rocket Garden supply a range of ‘grow your own’ salad and vegetable solutions to suit your needs and available space. Their Instant Salad Garden, for example, contains 155 young salad plants, ready to grow. You’ll need around 6-10m2 of space and a few hours to plant them all up. If you don’t have much outside space, however, you could take a look at their Instant Windowbox.
10. Earth-Friendly Cleaning Products
Using eco-friendly and natural cleaning and laundry products is a great way to help minimise your home’s environmental impact. Method, a San Francisco based company produce some of the world’s best green cleaning products including all purpose sprays, polishes, stainless steel cleaners and glass cleaners. We can recommend them because we use them everyday, and unlike some, they really work. Method All Purpose Spray, for example, is a powerful surface cleaner which works by absorbing dirt rather than chemically breaking it down. It comes in Lavender and Go Naked (fragrance free) and is sold in a 100% recycled and recyclable plastic bottle. Method’s products don’t contain parabens, phthalates, animal by-products or triclosan, and Method do not test on animals.